Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hate leads to hate crimes

Of course, the local paper won't call this a hate crime, but that's clearly what it is.

What else would you call it?

After a right-wing organization tied to John McCain's campaign distributed an anti-Muslim hate film across the country as a free insert in local papers, somebody sprayed an irritating chemical into a room at a Mosque where children were being watched while their parents were involved in a Ramadan prayer service.

This kind of anti-Muslim hate is disturbing not only because all racism and religious hatred is disturbing. It's also disturbing in the way that such hatred has exploded since 9/11. Muslims have become the new Communists - they're "the other," the ones that "hate our freedom," the people who are trying to "destroy our way of life." It's almost as if we have some sick need for someone to blame - like we always have to have an enemy on which to focus all of our anger, to blame for the world's problems, to make us feel superior and holy, to separate the world into "us" and "them." After the fall of the Soviet Union, it only took us ten years to latch on to "Muslim extremists" as the new "evil empire." Yes, the perpetrators of 9/11 adhered to an extremist form of Islam - but the average Muslim in America or anywhere else in the world is not an adherent to the violent views of Al Qaeda and its allies.

Just like the average Christian doesn't subscribe to the views of hate groups like Focus on the Family and the 700 Club - groups who blame natural disasters on God's wrath against those who preach inclusion and tolerance.

Just like the average Jew doesn't subscribe to the views of the extremist settler movement in Israel, which calls for the extermination or mass explusion of the Palestinian people from "greater Israel."

Scapegoating a religious group to acheive a political end has a name, a symbol, and a brutal history. We fought a major war against it, and we won. Let's not let that kind of evil penetrate our own society, which we value for its love of freedom and diversity.

Update: Here's a link to another story about this incident.